Dr. James J. "Jim" Johnson

December 25, 1939October 21, 2013

Normal - James J. “Jim” Johnson, 73, of Normal passed away Monday October 21, 2013 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

He was born December 25, 1939 in Emporia, Kansas, the son of Don and Dixie Johnson. In 1962, he married Patricia Ann Roth in Gridley, IL.

Jim graduated from Centralia Illinois High School and received his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He earned a master’s degree from Illinois State University at Normal and doctorate degree from Northwestern University. In 1966, Jim returned to ISU where he became a respected Professor of Psychology for 46 years. “Dr. J.” was devoted to his students both in and out of the classroom. His dedication to Redbird athletics has helped countless student athletes excel in school as well as on the playing field. Jim received numerous awards during his tenure but his most treasured honors both came in 2006 when he was presented the Campbell “Stretch” Miller award for meritorious service to Redbird athletics and ISU’s Psychology Department Alumnus of the Year award. Jim was an avid reader, fisherman and tennis player. He enjoyed playing noon hour basketball and cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals.

Survivors include his wife Pat of 51 years; children, Amy (Andy) Ashta of Naperville, and Erik (Candice) Johnson of Olathe, Kansas; four grandchildren; and sister, Judy Hatfield of Lee’s Summit, MO.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

He served in the United States Army Reserve from 1962 – 1967.

A Celebration of Life is planned for Saturday, November 9, 2013 in the Old Main Room of Bone Student Center, Illinois State University. A reception will begin at 1:00 p.m. followed by the Celebration of Life at 2:00 p.m. providing an opportunity to share stories and memories of Jim.

In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be made payable to Illinois State University Foundation, 1101 North Main Street, Campus Box 3060, Normal IL 61790-3060. Please designate your gift to the Department of Psychology—Jim Johnson Memorial, or Redbird Athletics—Jim Johnson Memorial.


Dr. James J. "Jim" Johnson

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Kristy Crowley

December 3, 2013

I was so fortunate to call Dr. Johnson both a professor and friend. He truly touched the lives of so many and has left behind such a lasting legacy. I will always treasure our friendship, which began so many years ago, when I was fortunate enough to take Dr. J's Intro to Psych course. After that course, I was hooked. Not only did we play weekly tennis matches together (he always beat me), but he escorted me to basketball games and athletic events. He was a wonderful man and I send my warmest and deepest sympathies to the family.

Brian Boomgarden

November 12, 2013

Dr. J clearly touched the lives of many. I find it difficult to limit myself to only a few of my memories even though most of my interactions with him occurred 30 years ago. As busy as he was, he always had time to listen, help me out, and share something humorous to make the day a little lighter. I still talk about my days as a teammate of his on the softball team, the psych-clones. The post-game activities were always the best part...telling stories and drinking cheap beer. As a grad assistant for Marge Lewis, I was located near Jim's office and was able to see first hand his concern for others and enjoy his sense of humor on a regular basis. With deepest sympathy.

Steve Huchendorf

November 8, 2013

Pat and family,
My heartfelt condolences. Jimmy was truly an extraordinary person. He had a deep and sincere interest in people. When he asked how you were doing, he was genuinely interested in the response.
I enjoyed the many nights playing softball together in the ‘old guys' softball league. While Jimmy had an affection and enthusiasm for the game, I think he enjoyed the post-game get-togethers for pizza and beer even more. Many a time we spent celebrating a victory or commiserating a defeat over several pitchers of beer. And I will think back fondly to those times.
It was an honor having Jimmy as a friend and colleague.
My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

Terri Ryburn

November 7, 2013

I am so sorry that I won't be able to attend the memorial service. Jim was such a wonderful colleague. When I was Assistant Director of Honors, I sent many students his way. They never failed to have a positive experience and reported that he was one of their favorite professors. My daughter took some classes with him as a Psychology major and had the same wonderful experience. He leaves a big, empty space on our campus; we will miss him. Terri Ryburn

Janet Caldwell

November 6, 2013

Dr. Johnson taught my PSY 101 class in a lecture hall in Schroeder the first semester of my freshman year in 1974. I believe it was an 8 AM MWF class. I was coming from a town smaller than ISU so the class had as many students as my whole high school. Dr. Johnson was so engaging and energetic that I looked forward to that class every day. I sat close enough to the front that he could see me, and I always felt he recognized my face when I ran into him. I was always committed to education, but Dr. Johnson fostered such a love of psychology that I completed the requirements for a minor and later earned an MS in psychology at ISU. Through the years I never had Dr. Johnson as a teacher again, but I would see him and even visit with him occasionally. His love for students, family, teaching, and his academic field always came shining through. Every time I interacted with him I left smiling. I am so sorry we will all be missing him, but what a legacy of memories he has left.

John Mueller

November 5, 2013

I remember Dr. Johnson as one of the warmest professors when I was at ISU. During the more stressful times in our graduate program, you could always count on him for a comforting smile.

Brenda Craig-Cherveny

November 4, 2013

Dr. Johnson was my sponsor on my thesis (1986). I asked him because he was down-to-earth and always so friendly. He put on no airs. He always attended the social gatherings of our Counseling Psych class -- he had such a great relationship with all of his students. I am sad today.

November 2, 2013

Pat, I am so sorry to hear about Jim's passing. He was truly a gentleman and a scholar . It was an honor to know him and work with him during my years at ISU. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.
Paula Smith

Sue Simon (Selby)

October 31, 2013

Dr. J was the best! I had the privilege of serving as his graduate assistant back in 1987. He was always so kind to all of the students and was certainly a gifted teacher. I remember how he loved to talk about his family and always showed me the latest pictures of his children. He had a great love for all and will be deeply missed. His kindness lives on in all who were fortunate enough to know him.

Shere Wolfe

October 31, 2013

Hands down, one of my favorite professors...ever.